The New York Philharmonic plans a historic Pyongyang concert in February, giving Kim Jong Il occasion to dig out his fanciest tracksuit—and further defrosting US relations with the onetime axis of evil member. “We haven’t even had Ping-Pong diplomacy with these people,” said ambassador Christopher Hill. North Korea invited the symphony in August, after shutting down its nuclear reactor, the New York Times reports.
Past symphony visits occurred alongside warming relations with China and the former Soviet Union. But not everyone is happy: One critic called the visit “a puppet show whose purpose is to lend legitimacy to a despicable regime.” Nevertheless, Hill responded, "not opening up has not had any positive effect in bringing North Korea out of its shell.”